Faith Over Fear, Part 3: The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength!

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I hope you all are doing well, brothers and sisters in the Lord! I pray you all are seeking Christ every day and are preparing your hearts for His coming. Jesus could really come back any day, and we always need to be prepared for that! Now today let’s talk about a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit that we probably all desire more of in our lives: joy.

“How can I have joy, Lord?”

I asked this to the Lord earlier this year as I was journaling and spending time with Him. His reply? Well, He told me to go inside. So I went inside and shared with my dad about some things God had been speaking to me during that time with Him. Soon my dad and I had a good refreshing laugh, and I was overflowing with joy!

God cares about His children and wants for us to have joy. He created joy, and He created us with a desire for joy!

Not only that, but He wants us to have joy even in the midst of great trials. This is because having joy isn’t about having a feeling, it’s about having Jesus. Even in the midst of trials, if we can cling to Jesus and rejoice in Him, the trials will seem so much less in comparison with God’s goodness. It really is possible to have joy in the midst of great difficulty! 

In fact, James urges us to make the choice to be joyful in these times: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:1-3)

Consider it pure joy? What!? I used to look at that verse in awe, but never did anything about it. It just amazed me. I didn’t know if I could truly put such a thing into practice.

Well, James wasn’t just saying something! He meant it, and he knew it could be true because of our connection with the Holy Spirit, who has an unlimited supply of joy!

How can we feel joy when fear seems overwhelming? The other day I was experiencing a lot of fear. Fear may indeed be an easy thing to give into, but if we are children of the light, we must–and I repeat, MUST–learn how to conquer the fear in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. As I was reminded the other day, we must stand firm in the Lord and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).

Yes, God can meet you in your weakness. But, if we never fight against the fear with the authority of Christ we have been given, we will understandably be overwhelmed by it and be very far from joy.

In spite of our weakness, we have been given the authority of Christ and we must use it! Jesus is with us wanting to strengthen us, and it’s our job to choose to be firm and to choose to fight in the name of Jesus! We must do our part, being instilled with faith, and He will meet us with His strength! And what is His strength?

Nehemiah 8:10b gives an example of people who found that in God, they could find strength, and that strength was in fact joy: “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

This is exactly the words the Holy Spirit gave me to fight the fear last night: The joy of the Lord is my strength! As I said those words against the enemy and stood against fear, I experienced so much joy in the Lord! Praise God!!!

Listen up, folks. Joy is not just a good feeling, it is a weapon God has give us. Joy is a weapon we have been given through the Holy Spirit to counteract the fear in our lives!

It’s OK if you have to fight again and again… and again. Do NOT let the enemy make you feel stupid. PERSEVERE in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing strong against the enemy and praising God with the joy He has given you. Hallelujah! Wishy-washy words aren’t going to give you victory over fear. Only a spirit standing firm, rejecting fear, and praising God can bring you victory–all in the name of Jesus!

Let me tell you, I haven’t always been a “strong” person. In fact I hesitate to call myself strong now, because I still have so many moments of weakness, and I know I am completely weak and helpless without Jesus.

But ever since I have discovered how necessary it is to fight against fear, doubt, and unbelief, that come at me, I have learned to be a fighter. And learning to be a fighter has taught me how to be a joyful person.

A year ago, I would probably have said something like: “Oh, that’s not my thing.” I am so against hurting things, guys, really! The thought of going to a shooting range to shoot even just targets does not appeal to me.

Still, when you are a child of God, you must learn to fight against the spiritual forces of evil. (These are the only things God calls us to fight in Scripture–people themselves we are called to love.) You must admit that these dark forces will ALWAYS be dark and they deserve NO compassion. God is calling you to rise up and drive them out of your life in the name of Jesus! Give up on fear. Get on your knees. Get sanctified in the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Even in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your devastating circumstances, your everyday job, your finals during school, your family relationships–whatever you are going through, put on the full armor of God! Stand your ground. Stop letting these circumstances drown you and rise above them in the victory you have in Jesus.

Bring your hurts to God. Every hurt. Bring your burdens to God. Every burden. Bring everything to God in prayer and rejoice in His love! He is good! He is kind! He is faithful!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

This verse encourages me many times. Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t let your circumstances overwhelm. Rise up and trust in the Lord! Rise up and praise Him!

Today, my challenge to you is to rejoice, as Philippians 4:4 talks about: “Rejoice always! Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul doesn’t just tell us to rejoice one time, he repeats himself, and he says to rejoice all the time! Don’t be defeated by lies or circumstances, but rise up and praise the Lord! Sing praises to God to combat fear and worry.

Choose to believe that He is in control and He is so, so good. Choose to believe that He is better and more satisfying than your circumstances, and that eternity in heaven with Him is something worth rejoicing about. Hallelujah!

He has saved you and bought you at a great price with the precious blood of Jesus. You can put to death fear because Jesus died and you can rise up with joy because Jesus came to life again. Praise the Lord! Praise Him forevermore!!! (I am extremely happy writing this post, if you can’t tell. These exclamation points aren’t just here, they are trying to express what is going on inside me. 😀 😀 😀 YAY! Thank You, Jesus!!!)

Choose joy today, Beloved!

Choose a joy that fights and believes and remains steady and strong no matter what tries to diminish it. Choose a joy that strengthens you and nourishes you with the holy presence of God. Choose a joy that is totally worshipful and in awe of our precious Savior who bled and died for us so we might live in unity with Him now and forever!

I used to have trouble believing that God wanted me to enjoy Him, but one time at a conference my new friend (who later became one of my dearest friends) said to me: “I am going to pray for you to have fullness of joy in God’s presence.” I was thinking something like: “Ok… That’s nice, I guess?” I didn’t really believe such joy was possible.

But guess what? By the end of the conference I was bursting with joy in God’s presence. I was worshiping my heart out to Him! I was discovering how truly satisfying He was and always is, far more satisfying than anything this earth can supply. I had never experienced such unfathomable joy before. I had never before realized how much God delights in filling His people with joy. He wants to fill your cup today, till it overflows, like in Psalm 23!

God is good, friends! He is so, so good. I pray you all experience boundless joy, energy, and life from the Holy Spirit today. I pray you all learn to stand firm in the Lord, fight against fear by the power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God in the middle of the storm! Joy overcomes fear! Light overcomes darkness. Good overcomes evil. Jesus overcomes your weakness with His strength!

Jesus is with you always, and I personally believe Jesus is coming very soon, so be prepared! Endure and persevere through the end, considering it pure joy as the Lord refines you through these times. No matter how bad things get, you will end up a more beautiful masterpiece on the other side, with a closer intimacy with our precious Savior.

Fix your eyes on Him, each and every day. Live each day to the fullest for Him. And please, by all means, share about the incredible joy and life God has given you with every person possible–stranger, friend, or family! You have a story worth sharing. And there’s people out there who need to hear it.

Remember, Beloved: You are so precious to God, far more than you can imagine. ❤

Have a blessed night, brothers and sisters!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

What are you longing for? (When you feel lonely during quarantine)

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Many people during this time don’t feel so much afraid as they feel alone. With more time to think and less opportunities to socialize, it can be easy to fall into depression or loneliness.

The other day I was taken up by a raw, aching loneliness inside me. It was so strong I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t focus on my online schoolwork.

So I went on a long walk with my dog and breathed in the fresh air. Then I read a chapter in the novel, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. Throughout all of this, I poured out my longings to Jesus. I laid it all before Him. I ached with Him. I cried with Him. I shared the pain of my restless and lonely heart with Him.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” – Psalm 62:8

Jesus met me there with peace. So much, pure and perfect peace. And comfort. He understands what it’s like to feel alone. The people of his hometown rejected him. His disciples deserted him. Even God the Father left him alone, hanging on the cross to bear the sins of billions of people throughout history, in order to set humanity free from the power of sin and death.

“And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).” Mark 15:34

Can you hear Jesus’ aching heart, crying out to the Father, ringing out into the still, empty air? Even Jesus felt completely, utterly alone. It is not a sin to feel lonely. It is only human. And Jesus felt that part of humanity for us, so He could be with us when we ourselves feel alone.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15

Search your heart. Do you feel lonely? If so, what are you longing for? When you feel lonely, you can always be sure that it’s because you are longing for something. Are you longing for companionship? Are you longing for acceptance? Belonging? Intimacy? Affection? Love?

Ask yourself, my dear friend: What are you longing for…?

It’s okay to acknowledge your deepest desires. I know I have been guilty of hiding what’s really going on deep inside me. As long as my mind enforces the truth, it doesn’t matter how my heart feels. At least that’s what I’ve told myself.

“You have everything you need in Jesus.” “Jesus is enough.”

Yes, those are true. But how can I believe it if I don’t experience His all-sufficiency? How can I believe it if I don’t let Him into the deepest parts of my being and nourish and satisfy me with His love in those areas? Do I actually live like Jesus is enough for me or do I just say that He is? The only way to live like it’s true is to experience it yourself.

Your longings are too strong to ignore. I’m not saying that the truth you tell yourself isn’t true, but that you have to acknowledge your own weakness in order for the truth to get from your head to your heart. You have to lay yourself honestly and brokenly before God in order for Him to meet you where you’re at. You have to let Him fulfill your desires with Himself, no matter how intimate and vulnerable that may seem.

Because the truth is, you need Him! You need Him involved in every area of your life. If you pretend like a part of you doesn’t exist, you are going nowhere. You’re stuck trying to pretend like everything’s all right when it’s really not. You’re being proud. I know when I do this, I feel distant from God, just as I would feel distant from a friend if I withheld the truth from her. It’s the humble thing to do to acknowledge how needy you are for the Savior’s affection.

I have tried guarding my heart with mind games. “You aren’t ready for a relationship.” “This will never work out with this person because…”

While those might be helpful at some capacity, they don’t address what’s really going on. What’s really going on?

You need to be loved! And the truth is, you are refusing to go to Jesus with that need. Go to Him, Beloved! Bring it all before Him. He is tender, compassionate, and has deep affection for you. He died for you, to woo your heart to Himself. He longs for you more than you long for Himself!

The other day as I poured my longings out on Jesus, I experienced His “enoughness”. I truly felt like He was enough for me. I didn’t hide or ignore what was really going on. I laid it all before Him, and I felt His presence so near me, soothing me.

Yes, believing the truth in your head is important. But not if it never goes to your heart. Acknowledging the truth about your longings in your heart is what will really set you free.

It’s okay to feel lonely during this season of quarantining. The key is, it’s what you do with the loneliness that will either make you feel like God doesn’t care or make you see that Jesus is truly able to satisfy your deep longings.

And even then, the whole world is groaning for the day when Jesus will completely reveal His love to the Church with the fullest revelation. Let Jesus satisfy your desires for today; and be encouraged that even then, we are allowed to feel restless and look forward to more, because we have not received all that our souls were created for yet—the richness of God in heaven.

Cry out to Him, today, Beloved. Invite Him into the pain of your aching longings, and find hope and rest in His love.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Intimacy with God, part 2: 5 Reasons Why the Connection Might Feel “Off”

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To read “Intimacy with God, part 1: What is Intimacy?” click here.

Do you ever feel “stuck” in your relationship with God? Like there’s a plug in the sink that’s blocking off the connection? Or do you ever feel like you’ve never really felt connected to God in the first place? Whatever the case, there’s just this feeling, you don’t know what it is, but just this feeling of disconnectedness, distance, and lack of love, desire, and joy in relating to God.

Have you ever felt like that?

I know I have.

When I was in my early teens, I yearned for the feeling of being close with God. Somewhere inside me, I knew that’s what I needed, that’s what I wanted, and that’s what I was searching for.

And so I searched. I sought after Him. I prayed. I studied the Bible. But the single most earth-shattering truth that brought me into intimacy with God was simple and it was this: God actually loved me.

When I believed in His love for me, when I really, truly, deep down believed, everything shifted. I didn’t just think He was with me, I was aware that He was with me. I didn’t just know He cared, I lay at His feet and I let Him love me. I didn’t just wonder what He was thinking, I began to hear His own thoughts, spoken to me through the Holy Spirit within me (1 Cor. 2:10).

When I experience God in this way, it means more to me than anything else in the world. And it means more to Him than it could ever mean to us! Drawing close to God pleases Him far more than any of our vain efforts to “impress” Him. Remember the story of Mary and Martha, when Jesus is gently rebuking Martha:

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” – Luke 10:41-42

As I’ve grown closer to God and experienced Him and been aware and in awe of His love for me, it becomes easy to notice whenever I suddenly feel like that connection isn’t fully there anymore.

And I ask God: Why? Why is the connection gone? What happened? I was having such close intimacy with You, and then it just disappeared, God. Why???

As I ponder what is going on that makes me feel off in my walk with the Lord, He has asked me at different moments to consider possible barriers that may be in the way of beautiful intimacy with Him. I detail these barriers below. Search your own heart and ask God to reveal to you what may be making your connection “off” today:

 

1. Sin.

This is the first and foremost thing we need to address if we want to be close to God! Don’t neglect bringing your sin into the Light. In the last post I talked about Psalm 139, how it describes the depths of God’s intimate knowledge about us. Because God knows us so well, ask Him to search your heart for any way you may have offended Him recently by sinning. Sin is rebellion against God, whether it is done purposefully or unknowingly. Any sin can be a blockage in your relationship with God. The Holy Spirit wants us to open our hearts to God’s loving gaze so we can become aware of what sin we need to remove from our lives, by God’s grace.

Side note: If you have never confessed your sins to God before, I encourage you to turn to God and do that right now! Through Jesus Christ you can be freed from sin and brought into a new life with Him (see John 3:16)! Your life will never be the same again!!! (See this post for more details.)

For those of you who have put your trust in Jesus, it is important to note that while you are completely covered in Jesus’ blood and are secure in God’s family, your relationship with your Heavenly Father will still feel distant if you are living in rebellion, unforgiveness, or in compromise, refusing to fully submit to Him. Check out Psalm 139, in verses 23 -24, where David prays humbly to God about his sin, an example for us to follow: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This is a great prayer to pray if you feel distant from God! As you seek the Father, if He reveals any specific sin in your life, repent and turn to Him quickly, and then open your heart to receive His forgiveness! He SO wants to forgive you! Only when you receive His forgiveness fully will you be empowered from then on to live your life pleasing to Him in this area you have given Him control over.

And He is always, always waiting to forgive you! I know I have often wrongly wondered if God could ever forgive me if I kept messing up again and again. But the truth is: You are never too far from His grace! He is faithful and just in forgiving us, and He is faithful and just in restoring us back to Himself in full union with Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

 

2. Lies.

Are you believing any lies about God? Catch yourself. Think about how you’ve been thinking, Beloved. Have you been degrading yourself, giving over to self-loathing or self-pity? Or have you been overthinking, because you don’t believe God is trustworthy enough to take control of your life? Or have you simply forgotten how much God loves you?

By all means, Beloved, stop believing lies! Don’t forget how wonderful God is. Ask God to show you His truth. Get deep in the Word and remind yourself of His unfailing, steadfast love for you. Discover His strength, His purity, His righteousness, His kindness, and all the goodness that He is.

Get to know God! Often, our wrong thinking is due to our wrong view of God. We think God is too small, or too haughty, or too harsh. These are lies straight from the devil! He is bigger than you can imagine, He is NOT too proud to overlook us, and He is tremendously patient and tender-hearted toward you.

He is not only ALL of these things, but He wants to be intimately involved in your life, no matter how messy it may be! He, after all, is the only One who can heal you, refine you, and shower you with the love you so desperately need. Get to know Jesus, because He is the truth, and the truth is what’s going to set you free!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

 

3. Lack of Communication

This one just sounds like the #1 rule of relationships, right? Well, as it turns out, you are in a relationship with God, ladies and gentlemen! So, the same rules apply. 😉

Communicate with God how you really feel. All the frustration, worry, anger, pride—lay it all down. Express to God how you’re feeling deep down inside. How you’re struggling. Even though He knows everything about you, He wants you to share these intimate parts with Him so you can have a real relationship with Him! Tell Him your deep desires, your secret fears, your aching hopes, your heavy burdens, and your crazy dreams. He can handle it! And what’s more, He wants to meet the needs of your heart in ways you can’t even fathom! Every need, every burden, every longing, every hurt, every struggle, every pain, every fear, every little bit of unrest, everything—He wants you to lay all of that openly before Him. In your most vulnerable place, He will meet you with tenderness and care for you in the most loving ways. 

Don’t withhold any of your mess from Him! And don’t forget to share with Him all your joys, gratitude, and excitement with Him as well! Either one of these forms of honesty are so sweet to Him, like worship. As soon as you lay before Him how you’re doing, you will feel so free. And you’ll want to do it again and again—at all times, as the below Psalm urges us to do.

Come to God in your totally, completely honest place, and He will be so glad to meet you there. Pour out your heart to Him! Whether it be a disastrous mess or pure bliss, share it with Him, Beloved. He is your safe place. He is the safest place for you to be, whatever happens and wherever you go in life!

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”- Psalm 62:8

 

4. Lack of Surrender.

Are you willing to surrender all to God? This is not a question meant to bring guilt, but conviction. We will never be fully willing to surrender all to God. I have no idea what things I am not obeying God in and trusting God in. We will never achieve perfection in this earthly life, so we will never be completely surrendered to God, in the sense that we will never be fulfilling 100% of what God desires for us all the time, by our own efforts.

Oh… wait. Jesus, again? This is exactly where I’m going! Because you are covered in the blood of Jesus, you are fulfilling 100% of what God desires for you right now. He SO delights in you! He adores you! He finds you altogether beautiful, and He sees no flaw in you (Song of Songs 4:7). And that’s all because you were paid for at a high price, and you are clothed in robes of Jesus’ righteousness. Isn’t that incredible? God is so good!!!

So what do I mean when I challenge you to surrender? If God thinks so well of us, why do we need to do anything He wants us to do? Well, precisely because He thinks so well of us, is why we should be more than willing and happy to do anything He asks of us!

Really! You read that right. Jesus is calling out to you and asking you to let go of the things of this world. He wants you to trust Him. He wants you to believe that He is in complete control of all things and that He is worthy of your everything.

Nothing you surrender to Him truly matters in light of eternity, so you don’t need to be afraid that you will lose anything of ultimate value if you surrender to Him. Choosing Him above all else means you gain everything that truly matters!!!

Jesus is ALL that matters! Because Jesus has offered us the fullest life possible with Him now and forever, everything else we have once treasured so highly in life should not mean so much to us anymore. We should be willing to forsake anything that the Lord asks of us (Luke 9:23).

This does not at all mean we cannot enjoy this life! This means we need to, as Corrie Ten Boom said, “Hold loosely to the things of this life, so that if God requires them of you, it will be easy to let them go.”

And more often than not, there are things in our life which we must quickly rid ourselves of in order to draw near to God. The process may at first be painful, but on the other side there is always freedom!

Ask God to search your heart for what you need to get rid of. Often I find that removing distractions and hindrances leaves so much more space for God and I to have sweet fellowship together! You will be so grateful you did, and most of all, God will feel so pleased with you, Beloved.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:1-2a (boldness added by me)

So ask yourself, honestly, what is distracting you from God today?

 

5. Lack of Desire

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m plagued by flat-out indifference or apathy toward God. This lack of desire and love for God leads straight to complacency if I don’t do anything about it. Don’t let yourself fall into complacency. Let God burn a fire in your soul for Himself alone! He is so abundantly worthy of all our passions and affections!

So, how do we get ourselves out of this rut of apathy?

Well, just because you don’t feel love for Him or feel that He loves you, doesn’t mean that you have absolutely no desire for Him, or that He has no desire for you. Don’t let the devil get you to believe that your feelings determine reality! The truth is, that no matter what happens with your relationship with God, even if you feel completely emotionless toward Him, you can always be sure of one thing: He loves you.

So, in spite of your lack of desire or love for Him, in spite of you becoming apathetic toward Him, in spite of you feeling weary and tired of everything, He wants to be ever so near to you, Beloved. It was never about your love for Him, anyway. It was always about His love for you! Let His love refresh your soul! Your apathy is a sign that you need God more than ever.

Ask God for more of a desire for Him. Ask Him for a greater revelation of His love for you. When I tell you to ask God for things, I’m not at all saying it because its the easy thing to say, I’m saying it because I really mean it! These are things you can ask God for that He is all so willing to give you.

Pray in faith that He longs to give them to you and He will soon do that beautiful work in your life. Jesus isn’t kidding when He says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” What a wonderful promise that is!

After you ask God for more desire for Him, soon, sure enough, you will find a greater love for Him in your heart. A greater desire to do His will and walk in obedience to Him. None of these beautiful things we find in our hearts were ever from us, anyway! Faith, love, desire–all come from God! We need to continually ask for more of Himself and continually want more of Himself, or we will slide into apathy and then soon after into complacency.

So, ask Him, Beloved! Seek Him with all your heart. Knock confidently at His door. He is just waiting on the other side to respond.

 

 

In conclusion, sin, lies, lack of communication, lack of surrender, and lack of desire are some possible barriers between yourself in God. Take an honest look at yourself. Let God reveal to you what the issue is for you specifically. It could for sure be a combination of these things, as many of them are interwoven together.

The root of all these problems is simple: a lack of faith. When we don’t trust that God is better than our sin, when we don’t trust Him for who He really is, when we don’t trust that He cares enough to continually hear how we’re doing, when we don’t trust that God is better than any earthly distraction, when we don’t trust that God is  worthy of our pursuit even when we don’t feel like it–when we don’t trust God in any of these ways, there is inevitably a barrier between us and again. Pray in faith, asking for more faith, and choosing to believe God in all of these ways!

Whenever I feel like my connection with God is “off,” I search my heart and He often reveals one or more of these things to me that is a blockage in our relationship. He is so faithful, and He wants us to remove all hindrances so we can have full intimacy with Him!

You may be wondering: But how? How do I have “full intimacy” with God once I remove all these barriers. What in the world does that mean??? That’s what I’ll be covering in my 3rd and final post in this series about “Intimacy with God.” (It will be about abiding in Him.)

Today, pray and seek the Lord about why you feel distant from Him. Ask others to pray for you. I will pray for you as well.

I will pray that you have a wonderfully intimate time spent with the Lord today, free from all barrier and restrictions and overflowing with the Love of God! And as Hosea wooed Gomer the prostitute, I pray you experience God’s love for you in the midst of yourself dishonoring His name, and that you find His grace is sufficient for you now and always.

I hope you truly have a beautiful day! Enjoy the song below as well. ❤

“He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” – Job 36:16

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” – Hosea 14:4

P.S. Originally, I had two title ideas for two separate posts related to intimacy with God: “Let God Break Down Your Defenses,” and “Be Totally and Completely Honest With Him.” I decided to condense those ideas into one uniform idea in this post. And in my next and final post, I will be talking about abiding in the Lord, while including the very important part of wanting Him more than anything (which was previously going to be in a separate post).

Intimacy with God, Part 1: What is Intimacy?

 

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This is one of 5 parts in a series of articles titled “Intimacy with God.” My personal intimacy with God has meant everything to me, so I cannot emphasize enough the power and beauty of drawing near to God in a daily, intimate relationship with Him. I hope you enjoy reading these, and enjoy drawing nearer to our gracious God, because in return He promises to draw near to you (James 4:8).

How do you feel when you hear the phrase “intimacy with God”?

Recently, a small group leader in a biblical healing class asked us this question. Understandably, it was met by some hesitation.

Two years ago, I would have felt the same uneasiness. I felt like there was a certain place a person could reach in their relationship with God, and that I had not arrived there yet. There was a place so deep, so pure, so close, so exciting, so wonderful, and so beautiful to be—and it was with God. I just knew it. So, how was I supposed to get there? Such deep intimacy with God seemed impossible! And too good to be true.

But soon, I learned with great surprise and joy that intimacy with God was true, and not only that, but it was better than I could have ever imagined.

What is intimacy anyway? I’m not asking what the culture’s definition of it is (a one nightstand, perhaps), but what the best kind of intimacy is: being close to God. This kind of intimacy is what our hearts are all longing for, whether we know it or not.

Nevertheless, instead of coming to God, we so often search in empty and barren places, in hopes that mere men or women, fame or money will fill our deepest desires.
In the Bible, the Hebrew word “yada” is used to mean “to know intimately, to understand, to experience.” (If you want to read more about intimacy with God aside from my blog post, check this informative article out.)

This “yada” is a great word to look at in our study of intimacy, because it encapsulates what we are searching for to fill our longings: someone to know us. To really know us. And to still, somehow, love us deeply, passionately, and tenderly, in spite of the dirty things we have ever done or thought.

Interestingly, the word “yada” is used both in Genesis 4:1, “Adam knew Eve,” and the many times David says “know” in Psalm 139, as in verse 1, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” How is it that the same word “yada” is used for two seemingly different topics (Adam and Eve’s sex vs. David’s relationship with God)? Well, in English we have it tricky, because we have only one word for “know.”

In Spanish, for example, there are two different words for “know”: “saber” which means to know about something, like information, and “conocer” which means to really know a person, rather than just know about them. The word “conocer” often refers to knowing or being familiar with a person, rather than a surface level ability to know that, say, the capital of China is Beijing.

In a similar fashion as “conocer”, the Hebrew word “yada” isn’t your typical word for “know.” God doesn’t merely know information about us. He doesn’t simply know that we are smart or clumsy or talented or naïve. While He does know certain things about us at face value, His knowing goes far beyond the facts. He knows our hearts. Our faults. Our shortcomings. Our desires. Our longings. Our hopes. Our fears. Our dreams.

God knows every single part of us. He knows us intimately. From the beginning, He has known all about us. And not only that, but He loves us in spite of our deep failure. Because God knows us and loves so well, He made intimate knowledge of Himself and intimate communication with Him available to us through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Jesus paid His very own life to pull us out of the muddy pit where we have rebelled against God—all so we could come to intimately know God in a personal relationship with Him!

And this is all because God desires deeply for us to come back into relationship with Him. He desires this because knows all about us and loves us anyway. He knows us completely and thoroughly for all that we really are and all that we really do. In Psalm 139, David was well aware of God’s intimate knowledge of himself:

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”

Wow! God knows us so well. These are only the first six verses of this Psalm. I encourage you to go and read the entire Psalm when you are finished with this post. It is one of my favorite Psalms, because of how close to God it makes me feel. It is so full of God’s intimate knowledge of David, which transfers to that same intimate knowledge He has of us. For example, in verses 17-18, it talks about how God numbers each one of our thoughts and regards them as precious! God is so wild about us that He would be so careful and thoughtful to do a thing like that. He so adores us and is pleased with us! (Can we just appreciate God for a moment? He is pretty sweet. Hallelujah!)

Getting to know a person is a huge part of loving that person. When you meet up with a  new friend or significant other you are dating, you naturally have a desire to get to know them more. The reality that God knows EVERYTHING about us and still hasn’t struck us with lightening bolts is pretty significant.

He is mighty, He is holy, He is just, but He is also faithful, merciful, and full of steadfast love. He desires good for us. And it is plain for Him to see that, in all honesty, getting to know Him intimately is what will do us the most good in our lives. This isn’t pride or arrogance, this is pure, honest, love. It would be selfish for Him to withhold knowledge of Himself from us, just like it would be selfish for a friend to ignore us and not keep us updated on how they are doing—how they are really doing. He allows us to get to know Him by filling us with the Holy Spirit, once we put our trust in His perfect Son, Jesus, for our salvation. He reveals to us the deep things about Himself through His Spirit inside of us!

“However, as it is written:
‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’ —
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

So, the Holy Spirit helps us get to know God in a deep, intimate way!

And through His Spirit, we have the ability to understand God’s primary source of knowledge about Himself: His Word! Always, always, always, go to His Word, the Bible as your safe place to get to know God with full certainty that everything in it is true. Unlike every other book in the world, the Bible has not one trace of a lie in it. God has provided His Word so we can stand our ground on what He says is true! (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible is powerful and God-breathed, but as we read it we must keep in mind that it is only a way of getting to know God! Getting to know God in a personal way goes much deeper than simply reading off a few verses and then rushing off to work or school. We need to not merely listen to the truth, but do what it says (James 1:22). And not only that, but we need to get to know the Truth as it really is, a person (Jesus), and get to know Him intimately and personally! Only then can we do what His Word says out of love for Him, and not out of false religion.

The truth is, you don’t get your life from the Bible, you get your life from Jesus! Here Jesus says in John 5:39-40: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

Come to Jesus to have life! Get to know Him in a personal way, through reading and soaking in His Word, and through constant, faith-filled prayer.

For me, having intimacy with God has changed everything about my life for the better. I have always felt a deep need inside me to be loved. To be valued. Cherished. Adored. Delighted in. Important and special to someone. I have often felt that, and always thought, unconsciously, that some man out there would be able to fulfill that longing in my heart, someday.

Lately I have been pondering it more. No matter what “perfect” fantasy I have of the man I marry (when I am not taking my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ as it says to in 2 Cor. 10:5), the Only one who can truly make that fantasy become a reality is God Himself. He doesn’t romance our hormones; He romances our heart and soul, our entire beings!

Get beyond the ideas of sex and romance culture imposes on us and listen to the heart of God, to the dream that He allows for us to come true: being intimately known and loved by Him, and given the offer to intimately know and love Him in return.

This is SO much better than earthly romance! Really. I have experienced it myself, and it is soooo true! Being laid bare before God can at first seem intimidating, frightening, and far too vulnerable, but you will soon find that your vulnerability leads to deeper trust in Him, because as it turns out, God doesn’t hurt us when we are painfully honest with Him. Instead, He leads us patiently out of our sin and into paths of life, joy, and peace, one step at a time.

I feel the Spirit weighing these words on my heart, so once again, I will say, with greatest sincerity and tenderness, Beloved: God doesn’t hurt you. He doesn’t hurt you in your honest, raw, naked moment. He knows all about you, but He doesn’t hurt you. Unlike every other human relationship, we can get close to God without Him hurting us with words or deeds at any moment. And not only is it in His entire nature to never hurt you, His child, but He graciously covers you with the blood of Jesus and fully accepts you into His family. Trust in the good Father, who wants nothing but to lavish good things on you! (Matthew 7:11)

I have come to a point where I often (not always) feel intimate with God. I am sensitive to His Spirit, and I pray to Him often. I have moments of deep peace and joy, where God lifts my burdens and gives rest to my weary soul. I have moments where God speaks to me about a specific area of my life that I need to bring to His loving gaze for mending and repair. I have moments where God reveals His truth to me in a powerful way that greatly encourages my heart.

I know God, and I love Him, and somehow He accepts me, in spite of my imperfections. Somehow He speaks to me and encourages me and helps me. Somehow He delights in me, and there are moments where I am deeply aware of His delight, and filled with His love. I am far from perfect, but God cleanses me daily through Jesus’ blood, allowing me to have unbridled, deep intimacy with Him.

It is a wonder to me that I have come this far in intimacy with Him, and yet it is not overly surprising, considering that I have often asked God for more of Himself. He is always willing and gracious to answer prayers like that, so I encourage you: press into God, and ask for more of Him in your life! You won’t be sorry you did, and I mean that with all my heart! He wants your whole heart and your full attention, Beloved. And He is so, soooo worth it!

Because I have experienced the beauty and power of being intimate with God, I want others to experience intimacy with Him, too. No longer am I bound by chains of perfectionism. It’s not about me anymore. It’s all about Him! I want others to have this, too.

Intimacy with God changes everything. Because I am in relationship with Him, I want nothing more than to know Him, to love Him, and to do what He says. And because I am in relationship with Him, I can do what He says. I have the ability! After all, I am not relying on my own ability anymore, but on His enabling Spirit that works within me day by day, by His grace alone! Praise God!!! Thank you, Jesus!!! Amen.

OK, maybe you get the idea by this time: developing an intimate relationship with God is super important. And not only it is important, it is life-changing. The God of the universe “yadas” (intimately knows) you, and now it’s time for you to “yada” Him.

So, now you might be wondering, how do I do that? How do I begin to have intimacy with God?

Well, come back next week to find out! Because this is such an important topic, I have split this topic into 5 sections: “What is Intimacy?,” “Let God Break Down Your Defenses”, “Be Totally and Completely Honest with Him”, “Want Him More than Anything”, “How to Abide, Remain, and Rest in Him At All Times.” I might change things up once I start writing, but this is what it’s looking like at least for now.

Today, begin to trust Him. Begin to get to know Him. Begin to love Him like never before. Today is the day to draw near to God, to go deeper than you ever have before! He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you with hopeful anticipation. He is waiting for you to begin your adventure and romance with Him and to continue with Him for a lifetime, and even afterwards, into all eternity.

I hope you enjoy this song, and have a Spirit-filled, intimate day with the Lord!

True Strength and Our Best Faith Arrives When We Seek Jesus as a Child

 

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Guest Post by Austin Ring

Our Own Strength is Limited and Fickle

Have you ever tried to rely on your own strength to get through the day? The week? The month or beyond? Some days we can do it. Other’s we cannot. Why is it that we don’t have the strength alone? Why is it that we need to ask for help from God? I think that these questions and more can be answered when we shift the perspective of what it is we are seeking.

If we are seeking strength and productivity through our own means, it can be dredging and difficult to bull through procrastination, slothfulness, and waking up on time–things we all know well and through. But what if we asked for strength, in humility and sacrifice, as a child would ask for something from his/her parents? What if we sought and talked to the Lord the same way children do when they ask their parents for a snack or a treat? Would God tell us to grow up and abandon our childlike thinking and demeanor? Would God tell us to talk to Him using big words and sophisticated language?

Let’s take a look at this scripture for some answers:

“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:13-14, KJV)

The disciples had sought to stop the children from coming to Jesus to be prayed over, but Jesus rebuked His disciples and told them to endure them and their childish ways, “for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” I just love that. What patience Jesus had with the children. What love.

Does the Lord Require that We Come to Him as Children?

Of course not. The God Most High will always meet us where we are. That’s what so special about Him. It’s one of my favourite qualities about His nature. That being said, I still think that it would be wise to approach Him as a child. Why not? It’s just easier, not to mention more fun! Take a look at this scripture with me as we seek clarity on this subject.

“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?”
(Mathew 21:15-16, KJV)

First, to put this scripture into context. Jesus had just entered Jerusalem and had gone into the temple of God. Jesus responded to the scribes and priests’ question by saying that out of the mouths of the young comes praise and worship. Jesus even goes so far as to say that younglings have perfected praise!

Why is it that God uses the young to praise Him and be an example to others? Why doesn’t God use adults to bring Him honour in the same way that younglings do? There is something special that He sees that maybe we don’t. Let’s lean into more scripture for further clarity.

“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” (Luke 10:21, NIV)

Again, with the context first. Jesus was speaking about the power of the Holy Spirit that we all have access to, and then was filled with the Holy Spirit to reveal a truth about how God operates. Jesus said that the Father is pleased to reveal “hidden things” to the young, and to hide them from the wise and learned. What are these hidden things that Jesus is speaking about, you might ask?

I could take a guess and say wisdom, knowledge, or other interesting secrets. But I would think that it would be better for you to ask God yourself what these hidden things are for yourself. Besides, His Word demonstrates this process of revealing secrets all throughout the Old and New Testament. I would encourage you to get into the Word and find out some secrets for yourself! 🙂

How Should We as God’s Children Approach Him in Prayer and Character?

So back to the question about how we should approach God in prayer, “Do we need to be articulate and speak in sophisticated language when we pray?”

Think back to the words of Jesus in the previous passage. He says that the children that rushed over to Him to be prayed over were the kind of people that inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Notice how Jesus didn’t say, “Only the rich, powerful, and eloquent in speech may come to Me to be prayed over, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.” No. Jesus said that children are those who are welcome in the kingdom of Heaven.

You see, something happens when we all grow up. We tend to bend to the world’s mold of what an adult should be. We think that being mature means that we need to be strong for ourselves. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Personally speaking, when I tend to ignore asking God for things, both little and big, I try to rely on my own strength. Or when I pray, I will only ask certain things of Him and not bring up more pressing issues that I think that I have a hold on. This is when I need to ask myself, “what am I trying to accomplish alone? Where is my childlike faith? Why don’t I just be honest with myself and God and include Him in the conversation?”

This is when I need to check myself and my own heart and really seek the Lord with a heart that is more childlike–more humble, honest, and earnest in nature. By flipping this switch, I have noticed that I am more confident, more humble, and more me. I like to think that God is the perfect shepherd and perfect solicitor of Grace and Mercy, because He is. When I really think on His character and promises, I am reminded that I need to be more childlike. Not to mention that it’s just so much more fun to let Him rule my life completely and just be a giddy and giggling child along for the ride! This is an important character trait that I think Jesus wants us to make central to ourselves, both in personality and in demeanor.

What Does Being More Childlike Look Like Practically?

It looks like obedience. It looks like genuineness. It looks like humility. It looks like fun! We don’t have to rely on our own planning skills, wisdom and intellect, or strength of body and mind. The Lord above offers these things to us FREELY as long as we ask for them.

For example’s sake, let’s say that when you were younger, for Christmas you asked for a new barbie doll or a cool toy truck. And let’s say that you received it. How stoked would you be by getting exactly what it is that you asked for? Wouldn’t it make you adore and trust your parents more? I know that it certainly would for me. Now think about this example when approaching God. It may seem like something scary and intimidating, but in reality it’s actually easier.

You see, God is a good God. He loves to give us good gifts. He delights in hearing from us and providing for our needs. It says so in His Word! “ If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Mathew 7:11, KJV)

In the example that I’ve provided, it presupposed a sinful nature in our parents, those that provided us good gifts, and that fundamentally distorts the quality and idea of the gift that was given. But God, our perfect Father, doesn’t have that same nature. He knows EXACTLY what it is that we want and need, and He is willing to provide those things to us IF ONLY WE ASK. See Mark 11:24.

So all this to say, be more childlike and watch as the Lord provides for and sustains you. This isn’t something that we as believers should just shrug off and think about later, this is important to God, and therefore, it should be important to us as well. It all starts with submitting yourself to His will and trusting in His provision. Just ask Him today, “God, what is it that I need to do to be more childlike. What is it that I can do to be more like those that you use to be an example to others in childlike faith?”

I think that you might be surprised in His answers. Haha. God bless you all reading, peace and blessings be upon you, in the name of Jesus! 🙂

 

AustinRing.JPG

Austin Ring, Blogger at GodMeandFantasy.com

“Exploring imagination in the vast realm of Fantasy, sharing my experiences in Truth and Transparency, and unashamedly proclaiming the Love and Truth of Christ Jesus, our Lord”

Read more from Austin Ring on his BLOG.

This insightful guest post was written by Austin Ring. His message about coming to God like a child is so true and important in this day and age where we so often come to God like business men or critics, only trying to get something out of Him or questioning everything He does. Be His child today and simply trust in the good Father, boldly asking Him for things and confidently letting Him serve and love you. I hope you enjoyed this post and have a blessed day! ❤

 

The Quiet Heart of A Child

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“My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.” – Psalm 131:1-3

Calm yourselves, overthinkers. Rest, those who are weary. Quiet yourselves, those who feel condemned. There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). You have absolutely no reason to be condemned, or to be exhausted, or to try to fix all your problems. Do NOT concern yourself with things out of your control!

Humble yourself and relax in the Father’s arms. He is really with you, holding you. Stop striving and struggling to get out of His embrace. His perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

You are a royal child of the King of Kings—and this is NO exaggeration! Through the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood, you are saved from eternal condemnation. You have rest in the Father’s love. And you have the quiet assurance that God is in control of your whole life, working everything out for your good, because you love Him.

Do not belittle yourself with the uncertainty of if you love God. You know that He is worth loving. Worth serving. Worth worshipping and praising for all eternity. You know that deep in your heart. This isn’t about feeling love for Him, this is about showing up and trusting. Trust and receive His goodness and mercy. Ask for a changed heart, a quiet heart, a childlike heart. A heart that knows Him and loves Him. That’s all you need.

Put your hope in the Lord, children of God. He is a tender Father, merciful, patient, and forgiving, if we only turn from our sins and come running into His arms. Through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we have fullness of life.

Relax. Completely relax as if you were a weaned child in her mother’s arms. Take a deep breath. Be certain that your Father will never let you go. You are securely attached to Him. Whatever has been on your mind bears no important in light of eternity. Your life is but a passing vapor, a mist that appears for only a second, and then disappears. He has everything under control. He is taking perfect care of you. 

Your life is meant to be lived in the presence of the Holy One.

So — Live in His presence! Abide. Dwell. Rest. Soak in the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord (Romans 11:33). Through Jesus Christ, you have everything you need, everything your redeemed Spirit-filled heart desires. Just stop paying attention to all those things that fill you with pride, and turn your undivided attention to the One who created your soul. You won’t be left empty! He has the things that have eternal weight and value. Only abiding in the Father’s love, following the good Shepherd, and living by the Spirit will have any lasting importance.

To have intimacy with Christ, is to be completely absorbed in Him. To not want anything besides Him. For Him to truly be your All in All. If you can’t say that about yourself, have no fear. As the man desiring healing for his demon-possessed son exclaimed: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

The Lord will help you if you only ask for help. Trust Him. Seek Him wholeheartedly. Step into the identity He has given you with full assurance that the Holy Spirit will do the rest. Step out in faith, trusting that God knows what He is doing, and He can shine His glory and power through your utter weakness. Dig into the Word; pray your heart out; listen to the voice of God. He is speaking. He answers. He cares.

“Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:2

Don’t give up! If there seems to be a void left unfilled, a question unanswered, that is only the testing, the trying. He doesn’t always speak in the ways we expect, but He always speaks.

Have perseverance, be faithful to the One who will always be faithful to you (2 Timothy 2:13). Take heart; He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The only thing left for you to do is to overcome your unbelief. And all that requires is a simple, childlike request for more faith.

Freedom From Anxiety: How God Freed Me + 5 Steps of Faith for You to Take Towards Freedom

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Do you struggle with anxiety? Have you ever felt like you could never be at peace again?

Anxiety affects 19.1% of Americans today. It is a mental illness of, more often than not, irrational fears. It hurts, and it hurt me too, for several months this year. There were certainly a few times when it felt impossible to overcome, and impossible to ever be at peace of mind again. Peace seemed like a far-off dream or fantasy that I could never again obtain.

I didn’t really experience anxiety much until I entered college. Suddenly, I was thrown into a secular atmosphere with people very different from me, loads of school, and little sleep. Added to that were other pressures of life, such as the aching knowledge that so many people around me needed Jesus, and my hopelessness to make a difference in their lives.

The anxiety got its worst last May, during finals. In a future post (an essay I wrote for a Creative Nonfiction class this semester), I will go into more detail about what happened then. In short, I was taken to the hospital for a muscle spasm caused by stress and anxiety, and I never wanted to experience that type of pain ever again.

What I learned a few months ago through the wisdom and faith of a godly lady, I will surely never forget. I left her that day experiencing so much freedom and inexplicable peace. God had always had the ability, it was only a matter of me trusting that He did.

To this day, I have a lot of freedom from anxiety. Though it still creeps up on me from time to time, I now have a newfound faith in God’s ability to trump anxiety in my life.
I cannot go on living my life without sharing how I was healed here, for any of you out there who are in the same boat as I was: crippled by anxiety, uncertain of your identity, doubting the truth.

God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace! Let your minds and hearts be at rest in the name of Jesus as your prepare to read the rest of this post. I bind the enemy in the name of Jesus from any distractions trying to get in the way. Jesus Christ has the full victory in your life, now and forever!

So here are some key things that helped me trust in God’s power to defeat my anxiety:

1. Recognize that fear is fake

Fear is a huge deceiver, enslaving so many people’s lives with irrational beliefs about reality. Fear makes you believe that the shadow in your room must be a monster. Only when you turn the light on do you realize how ridiculous it was for you to believe that—it was only your jacket hanging up in your closet! As children of God, we have nothing to be anxious about. God is in total control! Jesus Himself is sustaining all of life—even the mundane parts. Rest in Him!

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

2. Recognize the anxiety is NOT yours

If you are believing anything like I was – that anxiety defines you, that it is your anxiety, that you simply are an anxious person – then, Beloved of God, turn away from these false beliefs! Did God give you a spirit of fear or anxiety? Absolutely not! In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 says just the opposite:

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

You already have this powerful, loving, self-controlled spirit through your faith in Jesus! This strong, life-giving spirit is already yours–because you are a child of God, you have full access to it. If you experience anxiety, it is coming from an outside source – an anxious spirit – and it is imposing itself onto you, taking advantage of your lack of faith. But all along you are more than a conqueror through Jesus, and are more than able to claim the authority over it which Jesus has already given you (Matthew 28:18-20). Anxiety has no place in your life! Anxiety is not your true identity. Instead you are one with Christ, fully able to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13). Praise God!

3. Recognize Jesus is stronger than your feeble efforts

Over the summer, I read a classic book called, The God of All Comfort (which I highly recommend!). The author, Hannah Whitall Smith, encourages readers to simply trust in God, especially trusting in His comfort, love, grace, and forgiveness. She touches on some key truths about God that may give us the faith to fully believe Him. She describes God’s presence as a dwelling place incapable of arousing fear or doubt, and completely full of the peace that passes all understanding. When you put your faith in Jesus and trust that you are as a state of being in the presence of God, there is peace.

But for many people, this requires a battle against the spiritual forces of evil around us. At another point in the book, Hannah exhorts the reader to put off all doubt and fear all together, to slam the door on it once and for all, and to claim once in for all the victory over them in the name of Jesus! I remember when I first read that, I paused in shock, reading it over again to see if I’d really just read that. Was this actually possible? And yet, a part of me had been thinking that it might be true. She had affirmed that it was.

And so, I made an attempt to do just that. The anxiety must go away—now and forever! But before I knew it, the anxiety came creeping back to me same as ever. What was wrong with me?

After talking with the wise woman of God, I realized that I had been trusting in my own power to slam the door shut on anxiety. I myself am utterly weak, but Jesus is strong in me! Trust in Jesus’ strength to overcome your weakness. Trust that His peaceful presence can submerge all doubts, fears and anxieties. Trust that He can and will have the full victory in your life if you only let Him!

As the same wise woman told me, the healing doesn’t have to be a process, it can happen in an instant. The instant we put our faith in Jesus’ full victory is the instant we are healed. More often than not, anxiety may keep trying to get a hold of you and may come in at times when we are not alert of it, but with faith in Jesus it has no long-lasting hold in your life! With faith in Jesus, you can keep slamming the door on it, no matter how many times it takes, until it becomes easier and easier for it to go away—until at last it is gone. Anxiety can go away the instant we recognize what is going on and put our full trust in the Son of God, it’s just a matter of perseverance and faith, no in our own strength, but in God’s.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:4 (ESV)

4. Desire anxiety to be rid of in your life

Something particularly intriguing I realized as I made steps to freedom from anxiety, is that I truly had to want very badly for the anxiety to disappear. If I were indecisive of how much I wanted it to go away and I let it hang around like an old friend, then it would—naturally—get worse. The spirit of anxiety also, in a way, seemed so bent on enslaving me that it felt similar to what people would normally call temptations. It was as if the anxiety was tempting me to be anxious! I don’t know how the enemy gets you to be anxious, but that was a particular key part of my own personal struggle.

Realize that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t just about you, it’s about obeying God. It’s about submitting to Him so that you may experience a life of freedom that glorifies Him. Turn from anxiety and let peace rule in your heart, because it is what the Lord commands us!

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

5. Believe that God desires anxiety to flee from you, too!

Not only is anxiety something you want out of your life, and not only would being less anxious make you more fit for His kingdom, but the Lord genuinely cares for you, as the verse from the last sections indicates. Your Father in heaven can’t bear to see you suffer from anxiety! It breaks His heart. He is moved with pity and tenderness towards you. He sees it as no little thing for you to have such mental sickness. He wants to heal you! He loves you just because He is God, and you are His precious child, whom He created in your mother’s womb. He knew you before He even created you! Have no doubt in your mind that He values you and considers you worth freeing from anxiety. He longs to show compassion on you!

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” – Isaiah 30:18

Now, Beloved, I have taken you along my journey of how God freed me from anxiety and how He can and wants to free you, too. Hear me out: there is a bright future ahead of you! Do NOT believe that anxiety is impossible to overcome because that is a lie straight from the devil. Have a little faith, even if it be just as small as a mustard seed, because our God is an awesome God!

The Lord is waiting patiently for you in hopes you will lay back in His arms and rest in His grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, nothing you do or don’t do can remove His love for you, or blot out His forgiveness that stretches as far as the east is from the west. He knows exactly where you’re at right now, and He can meet you right where you’re at with patience and tenderness, and at the same time with victory.

He freed me, so He can free you, too.

God is with you, Beloved! Where His presence is, there can be no doubts, fear, or anxiety but only peace. And so, may the peace of God truly be with you, at all times and in every way. (2 Thess. 3:16)

Have a wonderful day, abiding in the Lord’s peaceful dwelling place!

 

Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you have questions for me about how to overcome it? Comment below—I would be so happy to encourage you further into the freedom you have been given in Christ!

 

Confidence in The Father’s Love: Part 1


Do you struggle with low self-esteem or a lack of confidence? Are insecurities a daily battle for you?

I have been wrestling with this for awhile. Only recently did I decide to confront it with the Lord more directly, and pray for Him to give me confidence. I prayed that this confidence would not be in myself, but would be totally and completely in Him and Him alone.

The Lord gave me the confidence that my prayer would be answered in one way or another (which was all the confidence I needed in that moment!). This was a desire I had that He would graciously fulfill. Ask and you will receive! This is the fullness of joy that God wants us to experience—our prayers being answered.

“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” – John 16:24

The other night I had a different topic other than confidence on my mind as I was thinking and praying. I hadn’t felt God’s acceptance for me very deeply for a long while. I’d been so prone to insecurity, and I knew I was in need of His steadfast love—the most secure thing to rely on. Living insecure is not only not how we want to live, but it’s not how our Father in heaven wants to live!

As I was thinking and praying, a thought entered my mind that I now realize must have come from the Holy Spirit: As the Father perfectly loves His Son, so He perfectly loves you.

Could this be true? It was a radical idea. Although I’d heard something similar before, I was never totally sure I believed it. Could the God who called Jesus “My beloved Son” call us His beloved sons and daughters (Matthew 3:17)?

That night I wasn’t sure if the Bible agreed with that beautiful, incredible thought that entered my head, but I couldn’t help experiencing His perfect love in that moment and being filled with His joy. His perfect love casts out fear! (1 John 4:18)

Though it was incredible to think that I could share in the same kind of love the Father bestowed on His Son, believing this truth was setting me free. It had to be true. After all, the truth is supposed to set us free! (John 8:32)

And, sure enough, the next day I found this passage from Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:22-23:

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (boldness added)

This astounds me! The Lord Jesus Christ has given us who trust in Him the same glory that the Father gave him. He gives us the honor that comes from being declared righteous because of His blood, and being declared children of God. This divine awareness of the glory we have as sons and daughters of a great Father, makes us more than able and more than willing to be united together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

With a united confidence in the Father’s love for us and a united goal to do the Father’s will, anything is possible! Our unity as believers allows the world to see that Jesus truly came from the one and only living God and that the Father pours out His perfect love on His children.

And so it IS true: The Father loves His imperfect children perfectly, just as perfectly as He loves His perfect Son, Jesus.

Let this fact bring joy in your innermost being! The Father delights in you and cherishes you just as you are. He accepts you in all your brokenness. He reaches out to touch you even when you feel completely flawed. Let this lead you into awe and worship of the Holy and Righteous One!

And if you have not been adopted into the Heavenly Father’s family yet, never fear! He perfectly loves you, too. He Himself is Perfection, so He can love you in no other way but perfectly.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (boldness added)

No matter where you are in life, God loves you perfectly. He is always reaching out to you, and He is never very far from any one us. (Acts 17:27) Choose to turn from sin, insecurity, shame, and guilt; choose to believe in Jesus who takes all of that upon Himself for your sake! His truth will set you free!

It’s so easy to assume I maybe-perhaps-kind-of believe God loves me, but that night, I knew I believed. Wavering beliefs are a huge factor in insecurity—or perhaps the only factor. If you aren’t sure of what you believe, it’s impossible to be confident. You may appear confident on the outside, but it’s really just a façade you put on to cover up your insecurity.

Let’s not cover anything up. Let’s be real and honest with God about our insecurities. Ask for confidence in Him and Him alone, and watch how He changes you!

I hope and pray the Holy Spirit fills you with confidence and certainty of the Father’s love for you. I pray the Holy Spirit overflows you with the love of God. Today–or tonight–rejoice in the Lord, who is your strong tower!

P.S. I wrote so much about this that I had to separate it into two posts, so keep a look out for Part 2!

 

Victory Over and In Things—Because of Christ

blonde haired girl wearing pink sweater

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

We should expect to be victorious in the Christian life, not because we have any strength, but because we have HIS strength. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) By trusting in Christ’s strength, we have victory over sin and death–this is because Jesus died on the cross, paying the price for our sins. Not only that, but by trusting in His strength, we have victory in our everyday life, because He rose from the grave after three days. We can “live by faith in the Son of God” and allow it to be not we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 2:20).

This is all a part of the good news! The gospel is for our everyday lives. Anything that is not lived by faith in Jesus but by faith in our frailness or the pleasures of this world, we can confess to Him. He will always forgive you when you confess to Him! (1 John 1:9). Once you have admitted you are wrong and turned to Him, you can ask Him to change your desires to be aligned to His.

He will pick you up when you fall in the miry pit and set you on a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2). Then you can move forward loving Him and trusting in His strength to live your life according to how He commands you.

In a relationship, you desire to please the other person. This is the same with Jesus. You only rebel against a person if they are your enemy; Jesus is your greatest friend and hero, and He has given everything you need to live a godly life. So there is no reason to live in defeat! We have full victory in Jesus! The only thing that can hold you back is (1) disbelief in Jesus’ power or (2) disbelief that God’s way is the best way.

(1) This leads back to the beginning of the post. You can do all things, not because of yourself, but because the same God who raised Jesus up from the grave can lift you out the miry pit of even your deepest, darkest failures or circumstances. He lifts up the lowly! You are able to live freely in the right way when you trust that Jesus’ righteousness lives inside you and you allow Him to live through you!

(2) A godly life is a good life–a sweet fragrance of purity, love, and righteousness–it is life-giving, peace-giving, hope-instilling. It is lived because of, out of, and through the LOVE of God. A godly life is BEAUTIFUL, because it’s the reflection of a soul-satisfying relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s reflection of our genuine love for Him. This kind of life is healing to the soul. “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” (Hosea 14:4). Living compelled by Christ’s love is the life God created us to live, and He created us to live it FOR OUR GOOD.

When I choose God over my sin and I seek Him and find Him, I begin to see that the godly life is beautiful. I don’t have anything to live this beautiful life when I look to my own resources; but when I look to Jesus, spend time with Jesus, and get to know His character, I have everything!

It is by grace that we have victory OVER death and victory IN life! Thank You, Jesus!

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37

Freely Flowing

clouds covering the river in a mountain

Photo by KML on Pexels.com

I want to live like I write – flowing and flowing – every moment rich and full with meaning – not missing a beat – catching the present moment and soaking it in – deeply soaking, dreaming of now. Being there—no, right here – and not in the clouds – taking in everything as it is and nothing more. – I don’t want to assume or to wonder or to ponder over hidden things that I do not know – I want to enjoy what I do have – to breathe without panting – to climb the cliff without pausing and waiting over the dreaded heights. I don’t want to panic – I want to jump overboard with joy and breathe in the sweet aroma of peace. What is it that keeps me from freely flowing whenever I go out and live? What is it that stops me and breaks me into a million pieces leaving me wandering and wanting for more? Dear Lord, help me, because I want to die. Either that or I want to thrive – I don’t want to be stuck in the middle – just wishing. Please, set me free. Give me a life of humility under Your wings, living in safety. Then I can flow out like a river and be like streams of water and find the ocean to spread out and wander farther than I can see. Being with You right here – Lord, teach me how! To be freely flowing, every moment rich and full with meaning – living just like I’m writing right now.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” – Galatians 5:1